Farewell Tim Dog. I wrote excitedly about your Dateline appearance last summer and now you’ve gone. I know Tim never had too many lyrical smarts (the majority of the very poor Do Or Die album exposes them), but for we Brits, his 1991 debut and those Ultramagnetics affiliations made him a significant source of fascination. No disrespect to Dilla’s output and his legions of post-passing Stans, but the DJ Quik Beatdown Skit and the ram raided intro of Penicillin on Wax may have had more impact on my life than his entire output. Like some prime Rap-A-Lot of the era the album had it all — some smart sequencing, an appetite for beef, good production and the sexually explicit Secret Fantasies (that blew my pubescent mind and made me see Cindy from En Vogue in a different light) all made it a classic. Reinforcing my faraway vision of the Bronx as that grim locale that even Paul Newman couldn’t save, the album’s goon-laden sleeve shots and the artist’s jewellery-draped, sunglassed, flat-topped, stone-faced portrait in black and white is a classic.
Tim’s decision to call out NWA and even heist their NIGGAZ4LIFE opening was inspired marketing — before we had hashtags he had a campaign of burning Compton hats and tees with Fuck Compton that flipped the classic old English font (worn by his boys in Huaraches while he stood in a Giants Starter jacket). Calling out the west coast, Kwame, Vanilla Ice, Kid-N-Play and anyone with a pop inclination, Tim’s first album sounds like it’s about 150 years old in 2013, where the subliminal is excitedly dissected by sycophantic rap journalists and the crossover is no longer taboo. The Dog gets extra love for causing Compton’s Tweedy Bird Loc (they don’t make them like that any more) to let of lyrical shots in both his and NWA’s direction — a hip-hop bar brawl. After ducking out of a celebrity boxing bout prior to his disappointing follow-up, Tim’s Fuck Wit Dre Day response, Bitch With a Perm took two years to materialise and was barely listenable, followed by Make Way For the Indian a deeply forgettable duet with Bhangramuffin sensation Apache Indian. And that was pretty much that.
The last Tim Dog track I paid attention to was the strange and amazing 29 second A Visit to the Zoo skit from his Big Time album with Kool Keith…then nothing. Until he appeared on MySpace trying to sell a 5-CD Greatest Hits compilation, despite possessing an EP-length quantity of hits (and that would be pushing it), before getting his Madoff on with gullible, lonely ladies. He also promoted his book, Who Killed Hip-Hop on his site (“Pre-order the book now and get 3 TIM DOG Mixtapes for free”). I had no idea that he recorded two more albums either. In some ways, Tim deads that myth that lyrics were the only way to get ahead back in the day — he just seemed to get fame through knowing some talented artists and having a propensity for greasy talk (criticisms which could be leveled at several contemporary acts), but there was something about him that captured the era where every artist had to have a “thing.” Tim’s “thing” was uncut ignorance and that’s what made us love his work. Salutes to Ruffhouse and Columbia’s art department for coming correct with Pencillin on Wax — the early 1992 ad above has some of my favourite copy (The Source was full of ads with phenomenal, bombastic wordplay between 1991 and 1993) — in fact, it’s campaigns like this that made me want to be a copywriter. Rest in peace.
Once again (this entry really is a rehash of last July’s writeups), can Fila take a look at their 1986 tennis output and being back their premium status after over a decade of being dragged through the bargain boxes by bad licensing decisions? These designs are still phenomenal. Most brands trying to come back were barely there in the first place, but you wore. Actually, seeing as Fila would almost certainly be dragged into the lure of collaboration blog inches by some marketing dude who just heard of this really cool thing called “sneakerheads”, maybe it’s best if they didn’t.
The T-Shirt Party project with photographer Tom Beard includes a shirt with some Notting Hill Carnival goers wearing the Air Max 90 properly. Even the forbidden mix of stripes and swoosh looks better than any carefully structured streetwear “fit.” All the minds behind the project have a strong idea of London style — the kind that doesn’t seem to get much blog shine in favour of some synthesised perceptions of what kids actually wear.